A Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday ruled that the United Bank for Africa (UBA) member of staff, who is a witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is competent to testify in the suit filed against the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.
The ruling of the trial judge, Mohammed Idris, followed an objection raised by the defence team on the competence of a top UBA member of staff to give evidence in the trial as a witness.
The defence team, led by Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had argued that the witness was not listed as one of the witnesses by the EFCC.
However, the court agreed that the witness was not listed and therefore ordered the EFCC to file an additional proof-of-evidence that will include the name of all witnesses and summary of their statements.
“The witness is not properly before this court. Therefore, the prosecution should comply with the provision of Section 379 (1) of ACJA. It is directed to supply the defence with additional proof-of-evidence,” he ruled.
After the ruling, the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the court to allow him insert the name of the witness he intends to call in the matter on the ground that the witness came from Abia State, and that it may not be easy for him to bring her back to Lagos.
He said: “I appeal to the court and the counsel to allow me use my hand to insert the name of the witness in the additional proof-of-evidence. She came all the way from Abia State and some counsel came from Abuja too.”
But Ozekhome urged the court not to grant the prosecutor’s application, saying: “The prayer is aimed at upturning the ruling of the court.”
Justice Idris, after listening to both parties, restated that Section 379 (1) (a) of ACJA is mandatory because it was introduced through legislation and is meant to protect the right of the litigant, the defendant and the public.
He, thereafter, adjourned the matter to April 10, 11, 12 and 13, 2017 for continuation of trial.